US Soccer Journalist Grant Wahl Dies While Covering FIFA World Cup in Qatar
Lusail, Qatar: Grant Wahl, an American journalist who contributed to the growth of soccer’s popularity in the United States and covered some of the sport’s biggest storylines, died Saturday while protecting the World Cup match between Argentina and the Netherlands. He was 48.
During extra time, Grant Wahl reportedly slumped back in the media tribune at Lusail Iconic Stadium, and reporters near him requested assistance. According to the reporters, emergency workers responded immediately and were later informed that Wahl had passed away.
Wahl was covering his eighth FIFA World Cup. On Monday, he posted on his website that he had attended a medical clinic in Qatar.
“My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress, and lots of work can do that to you,” Wahl wrote. “What had been a cold over the last ten days turned into something more severe on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort.”
Wahl said he sought treatment for his problems after negative testing for COVID-19.
“I went into the medical clinic at the main media center today, and they said I probably have bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and some heavy-duty cough syrup, and I’m already feeling a bit better just a few hours later. But still: No Bueno,” he wrote.
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Wahl tweeted this week that he was among the 82 journalists honored by FIFA and the international sports press organization AIPS for having attended eight or more World Cups.
His wife, Dr. Céline Gounder, a clinical associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine, tweeted that she was in “complete shock” on Twitter.
I am so thankful for the support of my husband @GrantWahl's soccer family & of so many friends who've reached out tonight.
I'm in complete shock. https://t.co/OB3IzOxGlE
— Céline Gounder, MD, ScM, FIDSA 🇺🇦 (@celinegounder) December 10, 2022
Tribute To The Legend By The Sports World
The passing of Wahl has sent shockwaves across the soccer and sports journalistic communities, with numerous individuals paying respect on social media.
The co-editors in chief of Sports Illustrated, where Wahl spent most of his career, issued a joint statement expressing their “shocked and devastated at the news of Grant’s passing.”
“We were proud to call him a colleague and friend for two decades – no writer in the history of (Sports Illustrated) has been more passionate about the sport he loved and the stories he wanted to tell,” said the statement.
We are heartbroken that former Sports Illustrated senior writer Grant Wahl died while covering the World Cup in Qatar.
Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this tragic time. https://t.co/B9dhFPSPZq pic.twitter.com/2ydpmtguRF
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 10, 2022
He continued stating that Wahl joined the journal for the first time in November 1996. It was stated that he had volunteered to cover the sport as a young reporter before its current level of worldwide fame, eventually becoming “one of the most respected soccer authorities in the world,”
According to the statement, Wahl also collaborated with other media outlets, including Fox Sports. In 2020, following his departure from Sports Illustrated, he began releasing his podcast and newsletter.
The tennis legend Billie Jean King described the death of the American as “heartbreaking.”
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Saturday, King tweeted, “A talented journalist, Grant was an advocate for the LGBTQ community & a prominent voice for women’s soccer,” King tweeted Saturday. He used his platform to elevate those whose stories needed telling. Prayers for his family.”
Other current and past US soccer players, including Ali Krieger and Tony Meola, and sporting organizations, such as Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League, extended their condolences.
NPR can confirm the death of longtime soccer sportswriter Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl). He died today in Doha, Qatar while covering the Argentina-Netherlands World Cup quarterfinal. Story to come.
— Russell Lewis (@rdlewis) December 10, 2022
The co-host of Wahl’s podcast, Wittyngham, told CNN on Saturday that the news of Wahl’s death was difficult to comprehend.
“For Americans, Grant Wahl is the first person you read covering soccer. He was the only person for a while … Grant was the first person who paid genuine attention to this sport in a meaningful way,” Whittingham said.
Multiple journalists recounted their experiences reporting alongside Wahl and meeting him at numerous World Cups.
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We are shocked, saddened and heartbroken over the tragic passing of Grant Wahl. He was a kind and caring person whose passion for soccer and dedication to journalism were immeasurable. pic.twitter.com/ohJoZlGfk0
— Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) December 10, 2022
“Before he became the best covering soccer, he did hoops and was so kind to me,” wrote famed broadcaster Dick Vitale.
US Ambassador to Qatar Timmy T. Davis tweeted that Wahl was “a well-known and highly regarded reporter who specialized in the beautiful game.”